Procrastination is something everyone has experienced. Although there are many reasons for it, understanding why you do it won’t necessarily help you get things done.
Delaying or putting things off until the last minute can sometimes work to motivate as there is nothing like a hard deadline to bring on the hyperfocus. Hyperfocus can be helpful, and many people falsely believe that they work best when under that kind of pressure. The problem is they don’t remember how awful they felt for the next three days. When you depend on your adrenaline to get you through a project you are using up your reserves and sometimes there is a price – your health.
One idea that I am thinking of using is declaring one day a week as Anti-Procrastination day. I believe it comes from the Fly Lady but I found it on Diane in Denmark. Wednesday is Anti-Procrastination day and she suggests completing one or more things that you have been putting off. She typically focuses on small things so there is a feeling of accomplishment. Just taking 15 minutes can make a huge difference but I’ll need more. Keep a list going so that you can get right to the tasks on Wednesday.
Since we are talking about procrastination, I have to ask….are you reading this because it is of interest or are you procrastinating on something else with a higher priority? No judgement here. You make your own choices. Let’s talk about 5 common procrastination pitfalls.
- I don’t feel like it right now, I’ll do it later
This is sometimes called “discomfort intolerance” when you think about the task you need to do and your body tenses or you suddenly feel overwhelmed and realize you can’t work on a task because you don’t “feel” like it.
- Admit it….you are never going to “feel like” doing it. Now figure out why. Is it boring, difficult or time consuming? Are you clear on the steps to completion? Are you afraid of failing or succeeding?
- Schedule a time to work on it – even if just a little piece of it. When that reminder goes off, get to it.
- Time yourself. Often time estimates of how long things take can be really off.
- Too many things to do and I want to do it all
- Figure out what is really a priority and what is not rather than what is just easier or more interesting to work on.
- Limit your to do list to 3 things that are important to you and keep the rest of the items on another list.
- If nothing is a priority, then nothing will get done. You should be looking at quadrant 2 activities/tasks not quadrant 4 (Eisenhower matrix).
- Distractions are everywhere
- According to one article, each time you hear a ping or a ding from your electronics, you are losing 10 points off of your IQ even if you don’t give in to them. Turn off all notifications or go on airplane mode and/or use focus mode which limits the distractions you can see on your device.
- When internal thoughts distract you, while you are working, take time to write them down instead of jumping up and dealing with them. Each break in your focus can add 20 minutes to your project/task while you regain the level of focus you had before you were distracted.
- Check in with your body before you start working. Do you need anything? Should you bring a drink or small snack with you so you don’t need to get up from your work?
- Instead of “now” and “not now,” think of “present you” and “future you”
- Handling things in a timely manner helps “present you” stay calm and prevents “future you” from becoming frantic. What can you do today that will make “future you” happy or less stressed?
- Take a look at your systems and processes – are there any improvements you can make, that will make your life easier in the future?
- Learn from your struggles. If you faced a challenge and solved it, document it for the next time. Learned a new skill, found a helpful app – keep track of them for next time.
- Change the negative into positive
- Science says our brains tend to focus on the negative as a safety measure, so we need to be aware when that happens and up the volume on the positives. Create a victory list of what you did accomplish instead of a longer to do list for tomorrow.
- Stop the negative self-talk. It doesn’t help you get things done, instead it stresses your brain and makes it harder to think.
- End the day on a positive note. Cross off those things you accomplished and celebrate. Add to your victory list and then go do something that makes you happy. Life is not about what you did or didn’t get done. It’s about who you are becoming.
Let me know what you have been procrastinating on over on my Facebook page. Let’s get a conversation going.